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Quaint Verdi has much to offer

Two runners take a morning jog on Old Highway 40, what amounts to Verdi’s “Main Street.” Photo by Matthew B. BrownIn anticipation of Nevada Magazine's “Tour Around Nevada,” in which we will cover one Nevada town or city in-depth per issue (every two months), I recently paid the unassuming town of Verdi a long overdue visit. Verdi will be the first town we highlight on our tour, beginning in our January/February 2009 issue.

The town's main street—a short drive west of Reno off Interstate 80—is Old Highway 40. Travelers might know of the Gold Ranch Casino, a popular place to stop for gas (and maybe try your luck in the slots one last time) before making the trek into California. But many might not know of the short, yet pleasant, detour one can take on Old Highway 40 (also State Route 425 and Third Street) through Verdi. I've taken the detour quite a few times, but on this day I was on a mission to discover everything the town has to offer.

Remnants of Verdi’s past are visible from Crystal Peak Park trail, which follows the Truckee River. Photo by Matthew B. BrownSince I brought my restless dog, Riley, along on this unusually freezing October morning, I stopped first at Crystal Peak Park to hit the trail that follows the Truckee River. I was surprised to hear the sounds of heavy machinery as I stepped out of my car. Later, I asked a Verdi resident what all the construction was about, and she told me that the town has received funding to install a pond at the former site of the Verdi Lumber Company, where a fairly large body of water once existed. Apparently, the pond will be used as a community fishing spot. Just think, you'll soon be able to enter your son or daughter in a kids' fishing tournament in Verdi.

As I continued my hike along the Truckee, I noticed obvious signs of a bustling past. An old chimney, still in remarkable condition, sits precariously in the middle of a field. A large concrete foundation remains, which piqued my historical interests. At one time, the structure was a roadhouse containing a bar, dance floor, and a swimming pool. I imagined how lively the town must have been in its heyday. The thought was a stark contrast to how the town is today—quiet, yet inviting. “Verdi used to be bigger than Reno,” said the same resident who told me about the plans for the pond.

The Verdi History Center, at 740 Second Street in Verdi, should open October 25. Photo by Matthew B. BrownI got back in my car and drove off the main street onto Second, where I discovered the new Verdi History Center (740 Second Street). The planned opening for the center is October 25, the same day the town is hosting Verdi History Day at the library on Bridge Street. Speaking of Bridge Street, check out the Crystal Peak Toll Bridge, dating to 1928. The bridge had to be rebuilt then after spring flooding in 1908 wiped out the original toll bridge built in 1867. A monument near the bridge gives more specific information.

I was fascinated by the different neighborhoods on roads that snake away from Third Street. Residents and visitors can play nine-hole Crystal Peak Golf Course. Next time you're on Old Highway 40, make time to read the town's Historical Marker (blue and shaped like the State of Nevada), which tells how Verdi “came into being with the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad through Nevada from 1867-69. It became a major mill town and terminal for the shipment of ties and construction timbers, with a network of logging railways reaching into the timber north and west of here.”

On the east side of town closer to Reno, there's a paved, two-lane bike path that runs toward Reno. Boomtown Hotel Casino and Cabela's outdoor superstore are also in close proximity.

Nevada Magazine's Tour Around Nevada

The Crystal Peak Toll Bridge on Bridge Street was built in 1928. Photo by Matthew B. BrownThe Tour Around Nevada will spotlight Nevada's interesting communities, but we're also looking to connect with Nevadans along the way. As part of the tour, Nevada Magazine staff hopes to visit each town featured to meet its community leaders and residents. After Verdi is covered initially, we will be asking Nevadans, and those interested in Nevada, to vote on the next town they want covered on the tour. Because they are well know nationally, Las Vegas and Reno will be excluded from the tour. So spread the word about the Tour Around Nevada, but wait for details on the voting process to appear in our January/February 2009 issue, and on NevadaMagazine.com, in mid-December.

  • Posted by Bethany Drysdale on October 13th, 2008